Governor proposes FoodShare changes

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by Tiffany Tarpley

MILWAUKEE--A proposal to change requirements to receive food stamps in Wisconsin is causing some controversy.

Under Governor Scott Walker's budget, able-bodied adults would have to go through twenty hours of job training and/or work per week in order to get FoodShare benefits.

Benefits for people who have dependents under 18, a disability or are elderly would not be impacted.  As it stand right now, there is no work requirement and job training is an option.

"The governor and many of us in the legislature believe that people who need help should get help," said Republican State Senator Alberta Darling.  "If you don't have to work, if you don't have to be self sufficient, if you don't have to be independent, [Walker] is afraid and many of us our afraid that people will feel that you can just have the taxpayer pay for a lot of your basic necessities in life."

However, Sherri Tussler, Executive Director of the Hunger Task Force, believes the proposal is 'bad practice.'

"So we're going to require work. If they don't participate, we're going to cut them off the federal benefit that they get and we're going to lose money for Wisconsin's economy at the same time people are going hungry," questioned Tussler.

Tussler said the proposal has the potential to put strain on local food pantries and soup kitchens.  She also said there aren't enough jobs in Wisconsin for the people who would be required to follow these new regulations.

"I'm not against working for a living.  I think it's important that people work for a living because if they do they can afford to purchase their own food," said Tussler.  "The problem is there aren't 76,000 jobs available."

The proposal calls for a pilot program first in Racine, Kenosha and Walworth counties and then it would be implemented state wide.  It still has to go through lawmakers for approval.

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